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Derby café bar closes for good due to rising energy prices

today8 September 2022 1

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A Derby city centre café and bar has announced it will be closing its doors this October, just over three years after opening, due to the huge rises in the cost of energy. Plant café and bar, in Sadler Gate, which specialises in vegan food, said it would no longer be serving customers as of October 15

In an emotional Facebook post, the café said: “We’ve done everything we can to try to prevent this but we have no other choice… It’s been a rough but rewarding journey and I’m endlessly grateful to everyone who has popped in to visit my lil business.”

Owner Dave Gray has since taken to his website to write a lengthy blog about the closure of the eatery, stating that: “things never went back to pre-Covid days.” He also cited a lack of support from the government, alongside rising inflationary costs and the energy crisis as the three main reasons for closure.

READ MORE: Young man accused of trying to murder Derby police officer

Reflecting on the closure, he said: “I’ve been sitting on this decision silently for a long time. The time has come for Plant to close its doors for good.

“I briefly considered starting a crowdfunder to keep the lights on (literally). But I couldn’t morally justify it when we’re in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis and there is no telling when it will end…

“My favourite aspects of the job were interacting with customers, meeting so many new people who I’ve grown close to, and being able to express my creativity through marketing. The business gave me a strong sense of purpose and the experience has humbled me in all the right ways.

“My least favourite parts were human resources, the tedious bureaucracy of the city council and the high workload I forced upon myself, leaving me with very little time for a social life. I’ve learnt that my life is far too short to spend the majority of it working…

“I’m not really sure what else to say here, besides thanking those again who have helped me on this journey. These past three years have flown by and I’m excited to see what the future holds.”

Plant café and bar is best known for its late opening hours and healthy vegan food, but like many hospitality businesses, has felt the strain of the last few years. Plant was hit hard by the pandemic.

After opening its doors in late 2019, it was forced to close just months later due to restrictions and was kept afloat by government grants.

Dave added: “Once we reopened, new restrictions meant that for the next few months we were forced to operate in a way that would reduce takings for us, such as removing tables and access to our first floor to adhere to social distancing, limiting group sizes who could enter, and a curfew enacted on the hospitality sector.

“This had a clear negative effect on our business, and in that time, we devoted time to developing new events and interesting menus to encourage more people to come through the door and help with that bit of extra money to help us stay afloat…

“A second lockdown came into force in early November 2020, just before our first anniversary of trading. With vague, uncertain talk of more grants coming, we started running a takeaway service which enabled us to slot into the ‘essential service’ category and allowed us to stay open, kind of.

“For the next six months, we operated as a takeaway and every weekend offered a different cuisine, ranging from fish and chips and burgers, to sushi and Italian food. It took the city council 18 months from opening to finally inspect our premises and give us a food hygiene rating, meaning that during this time we were unable to join takeaway services such as Uber Eats or Deliveroo which may have helped our takings.

“Our street café licence with the council at the time allowed us only 3 tables outside on Sadler Gate, so we were unable to open for outdoor dining in April 2021 as there was no way it would be financially viable.”

While the eatery re-opened for good in May 2021, Dave feels that the energy crisis then posed a further hindrance to his business. Despite the rising bills, he still chose to opt for green energy.

What followed was a surge in inflation and Dave stated that his increasing supply costs have pushed up the price of running his business. While Plant tried to absorb the cost, it has inevitably had to pass it on to customers, which he feels is unfair in the current economic situation.

Speaking about the closure of Plant, Derby City Council said: “We’re always disappointed to hear about a business closing in the city. While decisions about closing or re-locating a business rarely hinge on one factor, we recognise that both the Covid pandemic and recent cost rises have created additional challenges for business owners.

“Supporting business is a key priority for the Council and we work with partners to help and advise new and developing businesses in the city.”

There will be a closing party on Saturday, October 13, after three years in the building.

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